The Dream Maker

ISBN 10: 0312244231 / ISBN 13: 9780312244231
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Synopsis: The year is 1819. The Napoleonic Wars are now only a memory, but for Flora St. Serf and her family, Bonaparte's defeat has brought nothing but misery in its wake. Major St. Serf's court-martial has led the family to disgrace and social ruin; poverty follows when Flora's grandfather cuts them off forever from the family estates and the powerful Elder's Bank demands repayment of the major's debts. In desperation, Flora's mother is forced to give up her younger daughter, Sophie, to her grandfather in exchange for a few thousand pounds with which she hopes to keep the bailiffs at bay.

Confined to shabby London lodgings, sixteen-year-old Flora makes secret friends of her own--Lydia, the beautiful and wayward mistress of a Grenadier captain, and Dedalon, the French automaton-maker intent on creating a living creature from springs and clock escapements, free of such romantic notions as compassion, loyalty, and tenderness. Love is an illusion, insists Dedalon the evolutionist, while to Lydia, it's simply a woman's weapon for making her way in a man's world. Certainly, Flora finds precious little love in George IV's dissolute London, until she falls startlingly and inexplicably under the spell of the very man she blames for her family's downfall--Darius Elder himself.

Before long, Flora's love--and her strength as a woman--is tested to the utmost. As her fate and that of Darius spiral toward one another, across an ocean to the frozen shores of Canada's Hudson Bay, they pursue a dangerous and forbidden dream that could eventually destroy them both.

From Publishers Weekly: On a rainy November day in 1819, as McLeay's (The Summer House) latest historical romance begins, Flora Elizabeth Louise de Montfort St. Serf is dashing down a London street clutching the family silver under her shawl, in a desperate attempt to save some of her family's belongings from bill collectors. When she runs smack into a tall, breathtakingly handsome young man who accuses her of being a thief, 16-year-old Flora calls upon the breeding of generations to deliver a scathing set-down. After all, if the Elder Bank hadn't demanded the repayment of their loan from a penniless peer, her family wouldn't be reduced to genteel poverty. By the time Flora discovers that the young man is Darius Elder, her feelings for him have blossomed, but she refuses to let herself love a member of the heartless Elder family. As an unusual, if not downright odd, woman of her times, Flora's best friend is a prostitute; her mentor is an expatriate French automaton maker who believes man and ape are related; and she has no desire to live in luxury with her grandparents, preferring the squalor of life with her parents. Her calculating sister Sophie, however, jumps at the chance to leave the slums, and is rewarded with a society marriage to none other than Darius Elder, leaving Flora to rush into nightmarish matrimony with brutal adventurer Ralph Newsome. Matters come to a head on an expedition to Hudson's Bay, with Newsome as captain and Darius and Flora as passengers, but several more years elapse before a host of St. Serf secrets are finally laid to rest in London. McLeay's imaginative tale ranges far and wide, and her fresh take on the Regency novel remains lively and suspenseful throughout. (Dec.)
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Title: The Dream Maker
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